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Monday, 13 November 2017

Even though the storm lived up to its advance reputation, it did us no harm.  The lights flickered but did not go out.  It was perfect reading weather, except for missing a certain cat cuddled under my chin.  The remaining three cats are nice, and they like me, but they do not dote on me.

There was some excitement to watch on the local Facebook feed:

The wind speeds were dramatic.

The 89 mph was up at Radar Ridge, a high hill south of the Astoria Bridge.

From the Chinook Observer, late Tuesday:

Overnight wind gusts Tuesday-Wednesday:
Megler Mountain: 76 mph
Naselle Radar Ridge: 70 mph
Cape Disappointment: 60 mph  [that’s just across the Ilwaco marina from us]
Sustained wind speeds around 50 mph at times

Skooter watching the weather

Meanwhile, I read.

This history of the Dust Bowl enlightened me in a gripping can’t put it down way about the harshness of the drought and sky blackening, lung choking dust storms of the 1930s.  I’d learned a bit about it in school, where the idea that contour plowing could heal the land impressed me.  But I had no idea till now how bad the dust had been.

How beautiful the land once was:

The advice of using dust to mulch!!

“The best side is up”:

“We Americans have been the greatest destroyers of land…”

“You are filled with dirt.”

Static electricity from the dust storms made barbed wire fences spark and burned kitchen gardens.

This book will stick with me.  Because I love diaries, I was especially pleased with diary excerpts of a farmer, Dan Hartwell, that were woven into the story.

A man of poetic thought in a dying land:

Mr. Hartwell just plain broke my heart.  The diary just ends, with no idea of what became of him.

I had read the book straight through with nary a pause.  I have ordered a documentary movie that includes Bam White, one of the people whose story figures large in it: The Plow that Broke the Plains.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

When I woke up, I looked out the south window and the skyline had changed.  What was that big grey thing? My view had never included a big grey….building?  I was disconcerted.

When I figured it out, I asked Allan to have a look. “Is that the river?” he asked, mystified for a moment also, until he also realized….”It’s a truck!”

It moved and my normal view returned.

It would have been a pretty exciting day if the river had suddenly returned to right outside our back gate.

The full gale flag still flew at the port, and another wind front battered the house.  Good, another reading day.

Calvin now waits for cereal milk.

I read another book straight through without a pause.  I had just acquired my own copy of the best book about the loss of of a pet, one that I had read twice before when my extra good cats Orson, and later Dumbles, had died.

reading with Smoky’s brother, Frosty

I thought that this time, I wouldn’t cry my way through the book. But I did, in a cathartic way.  Virginia Ironside had collected poetry and essays along with the most heartfelt stories that were written in to her in her job as a British “Agony Aunt’ (like Dear Abby).

And this:

And the inscription on a pet’s gravestone: “Here lies love.”

Orson sunning himself on the sidewalk, round 1991

Dumbles, 1999-2011

Smokey

I was pleased to find that Virginia Ironside has a Facebook page, along with several new books that I immediately ordered through interlibrary loan.  I’ve read her basic letters to an agony aunt book and one called “No, I Don’t Want to Join a Book Club“, about “aging disgracefully”, so I know I like her style.

Meanwhile, I had been inspired by The Worst Hard Time to finally read The Grapes of Wrath.  I had tried it last night, and just flicking through it made me think it was going to be a ponderous read.  Today, within seven pages I was mesmerized.  How had I missed this?  Allan has all of Steinbeck, a gift from his Grandma, Beulah Fones, who lived in Steinbeck country.  The only one I have read is The Red Pony, forced to in school and did not like it.  I have some catching up to do.

Allan’s Grandma Beulah

I read through half the book and finally had to sleep. I just needed a good rainy Wednesday to finish it.  That was not to be as the weather permitted work on the next day, and so I am still worried about the Joads, who just made it (well, some of them) across the desert into California.  I do not think their dreams are going to come true.

The moment I fell in love with The Grapes of Wrath, page 7, when young Tom Joad hitches a ride:

The refugees, trying to decide which possessions can go with them to California:

human kindness:

If I see someone traveling with a vehicle overloaded with possessions, and I have seen some vehicles that remind me of the Joads (because we know about the Joads even if we haven’t read the book), my immediate response is compassion and help, not turning away and contempt.  I fear for them and am going to get back to my reading the very minute I get this post scheduled.

(Allan has been busy working on a project involving his boating blog posts.  More on this later.)

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11-12 November: rainy time off

Saturday, 11 November 2017

It is Veterans Day.  I reposted my mom’s Marine Corps story on Facebook.

For the first time in months, I sat and read an entire book.  I have read all of Ruth Reichl’s culinary members.  She has turned her hand to a novel.

To my delight, one theme in the book is an imaginary correspondence in WWII between a young girl and famous chef James Beard.  You may recall that I spent all last winter reading WWII memoirs and novels.  In one part of the correspondence, the persecution of Italians in WWII is addressed:

The finder of the letters discusses this with a friend:

I wish the human race would learn to not persecute whole groups of people.  Yet more than 70 years later, it still goes on.

A delicious passage about the reading of old memoirs and letters:

Allan usefully occupied himself changing the house and shed locks (which have become worn) and adding another coat of paint to a plant table.  We’d had vague intentions of going to the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum for the annual Chinook Tribe dinner.  We did not.  Allan said the streets were fully parked for a couple of blocks, so it must have been popular.  By the time the locks…and my book…were done, the dinner only had an hour to go and we would have missed the drumming demonstration.  We stayed home.  I turned my reading attention to The Tootlepedal Blog and caught up and then caught up on another favourite blog, The Miserable Gardener.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

The last of the tomatoes, some ripened on the window sill. The dark ones are delicious Chocolate Cherry.

In my recent full house clean up for our Halloween party, I pinned some badges and brooches to the curtain over the cat door.

Skooter has taken a great interest in removing them.

This one, once my grandma’s, was in the center of my desk.

Skooter triumphant

We are expecting some WEATHER.

weather map

High wind warning:

South Washington Coast-
Including the cities of Raymond, Long Beach, Ocean Park, Naselle,
Cathlamet, and Cape Disappointment
348 AM PST Sun Nov 12 2017

…HIGH WIND WARNING IN EFFECT FROM 8 AM TO 6 PM PST MONDAY…

The National Weather Service in Portland has issued a High Wind
Warning, which is in effect from 8 AM to 6 PM PST Monday. The
High Wind Watch is no longer in effect.

* WINDS…In the coastal communities, south wind 25 to 35 mph with
gusts to 60 mph. Near beaches and headlands, south wind 35 to 45
mph with gusts 65 to 75 mph. Winds turning more southwest
Monday afternoon.

* TIMING…Monday, with strongest winds during the afternoon.

* IMPACTS…Strong winds may blow down limbs, trees, and power
lines. Scattered power outages are possible. Travel will become
difficult for high profile vehicles along Highway 101.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

A High Wind Warning means a hazardous high wind event is expected
or occurring. Sustained wind speeds of at least 40 mph or gusts
of 58 mph or more can lead to property damage.

I had best check behind the garage for loose plastic flowerpots and tidy such things up.  Oh! And the Great Wall of China must come down!

I told Allan that if he would take the plates down for me, I would make him famous in a photo.

Next year, when dry weather comes, we have beautiful mosaic plates to add, created by our friend, artist Michele Naquaiya.  She gave us a box of them when cleaning out her studio, including the glorious Garden Art sign that used to welcome her guests.  The plates are already are fitted out with plate hangers.  Thank you, Michele, and thanks to Judy and Larry for bringing them to us on Halloween.

I’m putting this cool little piece in the house with my other tchotchkes.

Now I’m diving into a cozy mystery and will blog again after the storm either lives up to its reputation or does not.

I enjoy this series very much, although I could do without the cat helping to solve the mystery.

The cats and I are enjoying this staycation preview of doing nothing much.

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Wednesday, 8 November 2017

The Seattle Times (my home town paper) published an article about ICE on the Long Beach Peninsula.  Not only is it informative about the hardships of local immigrants, it is also beautifully captures the flavor of life here on this somewhat isolated sand spit.  Read about us here.

And recently, while Googling something, I came across a most enticing event about my beloved Nella Last.  If only I could go!  (Even if I could, it is sold out.  And I haven’t renewed my passport.) Tea With Nella Last would be such a joy.  So would a winter spent in the Mass Observation archive, something I could not even dream of when my dear cat Smoky was alive, because I would not have left him.  That reminds me of a favourite book that I intend to re-read this winter, Waiting for My Cats to Die by Stacy Horn.

The rain and wind kept me in today, although our friends Dave and Melissa (Sea Star Gardening) showed their usual impressive fortitude by working anyway at The Oysterville Garden.  They described sitting in their truck looking at the storm and then forging into it like entering a hurricane.  I would picture it as diving into an agitating washing machine, set on cold water.

Skooter by the front door

On the front porch, I found a package of cookies from Scott and Tony.  Amazing will power resulted in there being four left by the end of the day.

Tomatoes are ripening on the windowsill.  The model VW bus, a gift from Allan, represents one I used to have.

The cats all tucked themselves into naps, separately.

Skooter on a bed

Frosty on Allan’s chair

Calvin on my chair

I sat at my living room desk and worked on a long blog post about visiting Steve and John’s garden the day before.

Davidia ‘Lady Sunshine’ through a rainy window

rain and wind view from my desk

To my left, two cats.

To the right of my old Macbook, that empty spot where Smoky used to lie while I blogged.

The sky eventually brightened, but the cold wind continued.

Allan spent some time sanding an old table, once my grandmother’s, whose veneer top had chipped.  It will return to being a plant table when the paint dries.

In the evening, I finally finished a book in which I’ve been reading a few pages a day for weeks.  Margaret Drabble is a favourite author of mine.  I’d like to have read her latest book in a day, but it had coincided with bulb time and then with Smoky’s illness and death.

The book’s theme is aging and death, told in a quiet and undramatic way.

on heaven:

It must be this painting.

Spencer, Stanley; The Resurrection, Cookham; Tate; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/the-resurrection-cookham-201964

With this label, from the Tate Gallery:

Spencer believed that the divine rested in all creation. He saw his home village of Cookham as a paradise in which everything was invested with mystical significance. The local churchyard here becomes the setting for the resurrection of the dead. Christ is enthroned in the church porch, cradling three babies, with God the Father standing behind. Spencer himself appears near the centre, naked, leaning against a grave stone; his fiancée Hilda lies sleeping in a bed of ivy. At the top left, risen souls are transported to Heaven in the pleasure steamers that then ploughed the Thames.

Gallery label, September 2016

I learned a new word, “eschatology”.

The “downward step” of aging:

To add to my winter reading list, Margaret Drabble’s inspirations:

Margaret Drabble’s books are always over my head, due to my lack of education.  She inspires me to look things up, and learn.  One of her brief mentions was of the “varicolored but disturbing” Kitaj Tapestry.

An ideal staycation’s reading might be to read through all of her books again, from the beginning.  I own them all through The Radiant Way.  I remember my favourites being The Waterfall and The Needle’s Eye. If I could resist getting a pile of new books from the library, that re-reading might be accomplished.

I set my Goodreads goal too high this year: 90 books.  It seemed so doable till recently.  I am only up to 68 books read this year.  Perhaps if staycation starts by Thanksgiving….

I have had many thoughts of how much I will miss my Smoky during staycation.  He so loved those long reading days on my lap.  Perhaps, though, his brother Frosty will appreciate being the top lap cat this winter.  There was some sibling rivalry, and Smoky always won because he was just a quieter and more restful lap sitter.

While finishing The Dark Flood Rises, with Frosty on my lap, I had admired his silver tipped fur.

His blue eyes must come from a Siamese ancestor, as does his loud voice.

In the evening, I started a short and heartbreakingly gorgeous memoir, It’s Not Yet Dark.  I expected to be able to finish it the next day because of another forecast of rain.

…about a man with ALS, also now a well reviewed film

An allegory about his diagnosis:

Update: A five star book. It is not about despair. I think of my friend Lily who died of ALS in 2005. The lilies in the Long Beach parks are planted in memory of her. And I think of Vernie, the wife of a friend, a strong and beautiful gardener taken by ALS, who I wish I had known. I am planting some good asters in her memory.

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Saturday, 9 September 2017

You may have read our September 9 posts about the cottage tour.  I have two more things to say, the first being that I bought some bulbs for my garden at Costco on the way to Cannon Beach.  And as usual, their bulb arrangement caused me much angst because of the inaccessibility of many of the bulb bags.

The first section was neatly sorted, with each row being all the same bulb pack.  This was a much appreciated new phenomenon.

Organized bulbs! Well done, Costco!

Then I came to the same problem as every year.

I cannot get to the ones in the back to see what’s there!!

Usually, we haul the whole set of racks out into the aisle, determined to see everything.  Today, we did not have time because we had cottages to visit.

At the cottage tour, one of the most intriguing things I saw was in the cottage whose residents had turned all their books around.

I would be proud to have people browse my book titles (if I had dusted the books first).  I found it interesting that such private people were willing to open their home.  I am not saying which cottage it was.

I was ever so glad to be home after the tour.

at the post office to pick up our mail before going home

I rejoiced that I would not have to go anywhere for weeks, except to work and to dinner with Melissa and Dave.

That lasted for about 24 glorious hours until I saw that there is a rally, in Astoria, to support DACA (the Dreamers) next Saturday (16 Sept).   All I want to do is stay home in my garden.  However, there are most assuredly dreamers and their parents who would LOSE their gardens by being deported, so we must show up for that event.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

At 75+ degrees, the day was too hot to garden. After a day of blogging (for both of us, since Allan had many cottage photos to process), we had a campfire to celebrate the end of tourist season.  Our back garden was damp enough because of yesterday’s rain to make it safe.

alder wood and kindling

Nicotiana ‘Fragrant Cloud’ at dusk

a dinner of sausages and foil roasted (with butter, salt, and pepper) corn on the cob

The sky was clear, with many stars on view…if one turned one’s eyes from the annoying glaring white street light to our north.

NOT the moon. I miss the amber-reddish light that used to be there, and yes, I have kvetched to the powers that be, to no response whatsoever.

We then watched the excellent film, Bridge of Spies.

Monday, 11 September 2017

tooo hot for me!

Despite the heat, Allan embarked upon a project in the afternoon.  He is prying the shakes off of his shed, in preparation for new siding.  Underneath, he is finding old tongue and groove that just might be good enough to not have to cover.

prying off shakes around an old window (with Robinia pseudoacacia ‘Frisia’ in the foreground)

Allan’s photos of his shed project:

south side, a jungle of hops, honeysuckle, and raspberry runners

before (foreground, a special buddleia from Todd)

before

None of the four windows in the shed open.  It gets hot and stuffy inside.  He wants to replace the four windows with vinyl ones that open.  (Won’t be as cute…or paintable…maybe.)

old wood revealed

He thinks maybe putty and sanding can save the old siding.

after

It is typical here at the beach for old buildings to be this weathered on the south and west sides.

I finally decided, after more blogging about cottages, that I simply had to do something in the garden.  By late afternoon, an annoying 21 mph wind had arrived, cooling the temperature but making it dangerous to work under the bogsy wood trees.  Nevertheless, that is what I did, cutting down a salmonberry to reveal a new area.  (Have I gotten all the established areas weeded? No, I have not. Never mind.)

early evening sun shining through the salmonberry tunnel on the west side of bogsy wood.

before: My goal was to open up the hidden southeast corner

after: And there it is! You can see the tarp of the stacked gear shed crab pots next door.

Now…what to do with this area?

The corner has a big patch of orange montbretia to eliminate.

Lots of weeding to do.

I once had Lonicera ‘Baggeson’s Gold’ starts planted along the fence in this corner; they died from neglect.  I could try them again, or could maybe put up two outdoor plywood sheets in the corner and paint them blue!  Or…could plant something deciduous for privacy in summer and seeing through to the port in winter.

Today I ran out of energy and daylight before I did any weeding.  Allan will help me dig out the stump and haul the chopped salmonberry to the work trailer.

When he saw me emerge from this project, he said it was hard to take me seriously because I was wearing my slippers.

What if I got rid of THESE salmonberries and planted hydrangeas or Cornus elegantissima instead, hmmmm?  I just might.

At almost sunset, we chatted with Devery while she took my good friend Royal for his evening walk.

I then collapsed in my chair to do some evening reading with Smokey and Calvin.

Because I love diaries, I am loving this book, and yet I also find it disturbing.  In his youth, Sedaris worked construction jobs in Raleigh, North Carolina (later the home of Plant Delights Nursery and our friend Todd).  He keeps quoting the horribly racist things his white co workers would say.  It exposes the truth, and yet…I don’t think I could enjoy the book if I were Black, because the repeated use of racial slurs would be so hurtful and jarring that I might throw the book across the room.  (And this huge large print volume would do some damage.)  I don’t know what to think about whether Sedaris is right or not to quote the racists.  At least, he wrote (in his youth) about how he would object to what they said.  And we all need to be reminded that people and language like that still exist and need to be … battled.  I am at a loss for words about this.

Despite all that, I am truly a sucker for diaries, and I would like to read the unexpurgated originals and not just the excerpts he chose.

How very much I relate to the following; my mom would give my groceries sometimes when I was poor, at just about the age Sedaris is in this entry:

With a huge book full of treasure like this….

…..I wish that I had two rainy days to sit and read it from cover to cover.

Tomorrow: back to work

 

 

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Saturday, 3 June 2017

With Allan gone on his trail clean up (a longstanding committment), I did not go to the Rally for Truth in Astoria.  I don’t like asking for a ride and I don’t like inflicting my bridge phobia on anyone but Allan.  I saw later that the rally had attracted a good crowd (I heard there were about fifty people).  A couple of photos from the local Indivisible group:

What interests me especially about the above sign is that I had sort of gleaned that we were just supposed to have signs on the topic of truth.  I did not think my “Love our Planet” sign would be acceptable for the theme of the rally and did not have time to think about making a new one.  Turns out it would have been fine; had I known that, I might have tried for a ride.  In a big vehicle, though; it’s a big sign.

I’d like to say I was there in spirit.  Actually, I was so exhausted I slept till a shockingly late hour, and then I read the news for awhile.

The cats were no more energetic than me.

I looked at the path over Devery’s meadow and thought about going to the Saturday Market.

The market is just on the other side of those buildings two blocks away.

But I did not go.  I mustered up enthusiasm for putting my Pink Marshmallow fuchsias into prettier hanging baskets.

I don’t much like the faux terracotta look (right).

I looked around the garden a bit, seeking some energy.

pretty daylily

before: The west side garden was my goal for the day.

before, further along

and further along

south end, west side

Danger Tree garden, also a mess

north end of the west side garden, where I left off unfinished last week.

a beautiful Siberian iris

Sibirian iris take up a huge space for a short period of bloom.

Persicaria bistorta ‘Superba’ with half nice new foliage and half old tatty foliage.

a grass which I will ask Allan to dig for me.

Good and bad: Distressed and dying little conifer, and a big bud on one of the peonies given me by Mary Beth

My legs hurt just walking around.  Three ibuprofen later, I was back out with my garden tools, at the disgracefully late start time of 4 PM.

realized willow needed pruning back

better

Through the fence, the buttercups glowed like sunshine in the meadow.

On my side, the buttercups were huge.

Three and a half hours later (I’ll repeat some befores):

before

after

before

after

Getting the buttercups out of this corner was a real pleasure.

I even got into Danger Tree bed but at 7 PM I walked away from a great big mess of weeds, having hit the wall.

Fortunately, we have a three day weekend.

I had a revelation that the center of Danger Tree bed is open.  Something small with gold leaves died, I think.  I need to move the paperbark maple into that spot so its bark shows.  I remembered Todd telling me that at Plant Delights, they moved large plants in the middle of summer heat and the plants survived with plenty of water for days after.  I decided to risk it tomorrow.

Skooter wanted a campfire. There was too much wind.

Salvia africana-lutea with brown flowers that smell like root beer.

evening light on the front garden

I hoped that on Sunday and Monday, I would manage to get outside before late afternoon.

reading

I finished the autobiography of Lee Smith, a writer of Southern novels that I especially like.  Years ago, I did not think I wanted to read novels about the South.  One evening in 1988 when I was in Cincinnati with my then spouse, visiting his friend who was having a play (something about moonshine and coal black nights) produced by the city theatre, I picked up a Lee Smith novel on Tom Atkinson’s recommendation, to be polite, because we were his guests.  It was probably Cakewalk.  I then read all of her books in short order and have continued to read each new one.

I always pay attention to what writers say about death.  I looked up the lyrics to this song:

I love the line below, “These ladies were a way I’d never be.”

This passage about writing started me thinking about what it was like to move to Ilwaco (“a stranger comes to town”):

Lee Smith recommends the writer Lou Crabtree.  I especially liked what Lou had to say about being a night owl:

Lou Crabtree

Ms. Crabtree had some comforting thoughts about death:

After Lou’s death:

What Lee Smith thinks about age and wisdom:

Dimestore is short, delightful, moving.  I am following it with The Deepest Roots, a book which I expected to be a breezy memoir about country life on Bainbridge Island.  It turned out be densely packed with information about community, history, Native American and Filipino food, the history of local tribes and the food they ate, farming on Bainbridge and the internment of Japanese farmers in WWII, how pollution has affected being able to live off of local seafood…and that is just chapter one.  It is beautifully written and will be a slow read for summertime. On the day that this post publishes (June 10), the author will be speaking at Time Enough Books at the Port of Ilwaco between 5:30 and 7:00.

 

 

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Monday, 15 May 2017

I did not mind in the least that we had a cold, rainy, windy day off, because I had an excellent book to read.  Karla from Time Enough Books had lent me an advanced reading copy. I had started it recently at one chapter a day.  It was much better to be able immerse myself for a whole afternoon in the world of gardening in Japan.

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I had been immediately interested in Ms. Buck’s description of the difference between public gardening in California and Japan:

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And that was just the preface.  I am completely smitten by this book and consider it perfect in every way, as it tells a very personal story along with expert advice about pruning and about techniques to make every inch of a garden impeccably beautiful.

More, from later in the book, about the respect given to gardeners:

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Later:

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And not just designers are given respect:

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I do remember quitting a garden once when I was supposed to follow the design of a landscape designer with absolutely no personal input (or respect).  Especially when I heard that said designer was famous among jobbing gardeners for planting everything too close together.

I learned a new way to think about Japanese gardens, quite different from some of my assumptions:

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The passage below reminded me of how I have never adopted the term “master gardener” and feel uncomfortable when people call me that (even though I did once take the Master Gardener class with its 56 hours of training and volunteer time):

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The hard work impressed me, in all weather, including winter cold.  While I no longer work such long hours, and in all weather, I used to (although I never did start at dawn, making my winter hours much shorter than the ones Leslie worked at age 34 in Kyoto).

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When given the choice of taking rain days off, she was determined to work as hard as the rest of the crew.

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This is one reason why today, I felt a bit guilty in my comfy chair reading a wonderful book, knowing that our good friends Dave and Melissa (Sea Star Gardening) still work in all weather.

Throughout the book, I identified with the hard work of full time gardening.

“Nature….

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…carry thorns and sticky sap that attracts dirt and sometimes causes infection.”

Later: “We loved pruning, touching the plants directly.  We both understood the monetary and physical sacrifice of working on behalf of nature.”

When I read the following passage, I asked Allan to go across the street to the J’s and give the three small struggling hydrangeas a good dose of Dr Earth fertilizer.  (I could not leave my book, you see.)

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I learned of a new-to-me product, cuffs to wear over one’s wrists while pruning to protect from scratches.  If only I had thought of this while weeding among the rugosa roses in the beach approach garden.  This could save much pain in the future.  (I cannot weed in heavy rose gauntlets, but protective cuffs would be just the thing.)

I found some for sale in New Zealand.  I’ll keep searching for some closer to home.

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an excellent concept

I was reminded in the following passage of private clients of the past who treated us well:

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She had some especially kind clients:

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A later passage reminded me of a recurring problem in private gardening: bathroom access.  A few clients immediately would offer us use of their bathrooms.  Others would never think of it even if we were there all day.

I learned a new term, one that explained why I often teared up while reading about Leslie’s gardening experiences:

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Author Keane also said the original Japanese word for gardening includes “humans in nature as an inherent and indivisible part of it.”

I could hardly bear for the book to end.  It is rare to read the story of a hard working gardener, whether a highly skilled pruning specialist like Leslie or a maintenance gardener like many I know.  Her descriptive prose beautifully captures the gardens where she worked, and her pruning advice is invaluable and will prove to be of great use and inspiration to me.  I had to stop many times to ponder what she had written and, especially toward the end, to feel some deep emotion.  (A passage that mentioned President Obama brought actual tears.)

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It was a good day for Smokey, as well.

I think that during gardening season, it would help me to only read gardening books, for inspiration.

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Monday, 1 May 2017

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WHAAAAT?

I was taken aback by completely unexpected cold rain and 20 mph wind.  No!  What happened to our five nice weekdays? Ok, maybe the beach approach garden won’t get done before the Sunday parade.  After all, the parade takes place downtown, not the beach approach.

I decided that I would enjoy a reading day, as did Allan.  I returned to my wonderful birthday present book; Allan had discovered and acquired it for me from the UK.

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Smokey loves a reading day.

I was pleased to finish the very funny homage to Bill Bryson’s Notes From a Small Island, in which author Ben Aitken retraces Bill’s route 20 years later.  While much of the book is humorous, I also appreciated Aitken’s occasional serious comments on class.

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An amusing passage:

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In Lincoln:

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More much appreciated (by me) musings on class:

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Later, in the north:

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I gave the book five out of five stars and I highly recommend it.  There were just a few moments when Aitken suggested Bryson did something that made me think, surely not.  When I cross referenced my copy of Notes from a Small Island, I was right, and now I intend to re-read Bryson’s book while Aitken’s is still fresh in my memory.

I still had plenty of time to read a rather short book that I had somehow missed by one of my favourite authors.

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An interesting digression that had little to do with the plot:

And after that, I had time to start (but not finish) a third book, another birthday present from Allan.

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I have some reservations about this book, particularly my thought that if you are going to travel from Lands End to John O’ Groats starting off in just your skivvies, begging along the way for clothes, bikes, food, and lodging, it will go a lot better if you are young white men.  These two chaps are the sort who insist on making it quite clear that they really don’t want to share a double bed.  And it does not seem to occur to them to examine why their journey is not especially dangerous.  My feeling when I read Dear Bill Bryson is that I’d love to be friends with the author.  These two…maybe not. However, I am very much enjoying the descriptions of England and I wouldn’t mind another rainy day to finish the book…if it were not for the fact that we are behind on work. (Edited to add…I am almost done with the Free Country book and have enjoyed the travelogue but am AWFULLY tired of being constantly reminded that the two young men are not gay.  They need to grow up!)

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